A very sticky topic

Listening to me chew gum is the bane of Margaret’s existence.She wants to poke her (and my) eyes out when she hears me chewing gum. For all the times she doesn’t listen to me, I swear, her ears become these electrophysiological, auditory forces of bionic amplification, empowering her with the ability to hear my gum chewing from across a noisy street as if I were chewing directly into her ear.  I’m not exaggerating.
I promise you that as annoying as it is for Margaret to listen to me chew gum, it is even more annoying for me to hear her complain about it.  And I exaggerate not when I share that it is ALWAYS when I have just unwrapped a stick of gum and start chewing – which is the best part of chewing gum!  When the sugarless substitute makes your mouth burst with abundant flavor and your body involuntarily does a little happy jig.  She never complains when I’ve chewed it for a while and it’s become as tough as leather and tasteless as plain tofu.

I realize that I often think of chewing gum right before I pick Margaret up from somewhere. Perhaps it’s a psychological thing and I am chewing gum as a way to sooth myself in preparation for the unknown, like Margaret’s mood (which tends to change as often as a snapchat).  I don’t know. But I am now aware of this poor timing.  So when I do indulge in a new stick of gum directly before picking her up, I employ some basic tactics so as to stall the complaints.

The most effective tactic is to try to chew with my mouth closed.  This is not at all ideal, especially when your mouth first embraces the dry stick of gum. Inevitably, Margaret is alerted to my chewing it.  But if I am careful, I can stave off enough time that the flavorful sugarless substitute has diminished enough that I don’t feel like it was a complete waste of a stick of gum.

Another tactic I use is to ask her questions so that she’s thinking and talking, taking the focus away from my gum chewing.  This tactic is only effective part of the time due to her moodiness.  If she’s in a talkative mood, I’m golden.

A less effective tactic is to turn on the radio. Crank up that volume. This almost always fails as it’s a short-term stop-gap, unless of course I chew with my mouth closed (again, not ideal because it’s more like sucking my gum rather than chewing it and what’s the pleasure in that?).

A last tactic, which requires energy on my part, is to tell her to suck it up. Because at the end of the day, people chew gum and often loudly and in situations that you really can’t complain. I generally emphasize here that her learning to tolerate my gum chewing is good for her in the long run. And according to the American Dental Association, it’s good for her teeth and I will encourage it (once she gets her soon-to-be braces off):

The physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. If you chew after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, creating the conditions for decay. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel. Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

What do you do that your pre-teen/teen can’t stand?

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